A few random thoughts and observations about the Checkers 4-2 win over Rockford:
- Man, the AHL schedule is unbalanced! Last night was Rockford’s first game in a week, their last being October 29 at home, where they lost to Peoria. The night before, they won on the road in Peoria. After a week you tend to see either a team that is well rested and ready to play, or one that’s rusty. I think the Checkers got the latter. The first period was sloppy on the Rockford side, resulting in three goals practically back-to-back. Meanwhile, the Checkers have now played six of their nine road games IN A ROW.
- Rockford definitely came back after the first intermission. The IceHogs were feistier, and more controlling with the puck, but it wasn’t enough as Charlotte won the game 4-2.
- Mike Murphy had a good game. Both of the goals he allowed were tough, sharp angle shots that were nearly unstoppable. The first came practically from behind him. Murphy does a great job controlling rebounds. Really, control is just a good word for Murph. He has finesse, and his ability to control rebounds and read the play are outstanding. He just has a very polished way of goaltending. Some netminders seem choppier, more frantic, and floppy at times, but Murphy’s speed and fluidity make him even better.
- The Checkers third period play was not as strong as it could have been, but it was also coming from a team that had played 12 periods of hockey, traveled about 15 hours in a bus, plus non-direct flights from Charlotte, all in a period of about 56 hours over the course of three games this weekend.
- Jared Staal had another strong game. Maybe the playing time he’s getting is paying off. I hope I get to see him later this month when the Checkers finally play at home again. I questioned him being benched the last half of the season last year (and all of the playoffs), because he’s not going to get better if he’s not playing, but he also didn’t deserve to be playing compared to the level of play of his teammates. It’s a double edged sword, unfortunately. The good news is, he’s really upped his game, and still has a chance to be the fourth Staal brother everyone is hoping for!
Other thoughts and observations, not at all related to Rockford:
- KP over at Cardiac Cane did a hilarious and awesome interview with former-Checkers netminder Justin Pogge. It’s definitely worth a read!
- The St. Louis Blues fired their coach yesterday, and hired Ken Hitchcock to replace him. Zach over at the Rivermen Blog wrote a piece on what that might mean for Peoria. He makes some good points about how with big changes at the NHL level, the AHL club has to adapt as well. It got me thinking about the Hurricanes recent struggles, and how that could ultimately affect Charlotte…. both with player moves, coaching changes, or the coaching style of systems.
- With the Blues coach being the first major domino to fall as teams evaluate the first month of the season, you can’t help but wonder if Raleigh will have a big domino soon, as well. By no means are the Canes as terrible as the 2-11 Columbus Blue Jackets, but their play as of late has been…. lackluster? I’m not one that should provide a lot of analysis though, because I don’t follow them closely. I’d like to add a Chasing Checkers writer to the group that can do semi-regular updates on what’s going on in Raleigh, and maybe an analysis of this recent tumble the Canes seem to be having. If you are interested in writing about the Canes, drop me an email!